Classics degrees are usually centered on the language, literature and civilizations
of ancient Greece and Rome. Some schools study other areas as well, like North
Africa, Crete and Sicily.
Students examine various aspects of classical societies. These include
religion, art, architecture, literature and philosophy. They also study the
languages of these civilizations. Be prepared to learn Latin and Greek.
But what can you do with a classics degree?
"A liberal arts major, whether in archeology, classics, English, history
or whatever, does not prepare you for a [specific] career. It just gives you
an education," says Paul Wallace. He is a classics professor at the University
at Albany, State University of New York. "That is not to say that a liberally
educated person is employment-hindered."
Law, journalism, medicine, archeology and teaching are just a few areas
that may call for a classics background.
Wallace advises classics students to consider graduate school to achieve
a more definite goal.
So what should high school students pondering a degree in classics focus
"Courses that emphasize reading and writing," suggests Jane Phillips.
She is a classics professor at the University of Kentucky. "[Also], courses
in cultural diversity [and] courses in critical and analytical thinking."
Phillips says that an inquisitive mind, an interest in the Greco-Roman
world, a wide range of reading interests and an enthusiasm for cultural diversity
are the typical traits of a star classics student.
"Obviously, language skills and social studies are helpful," says
Jeremy Rossiter. He is a professor with a university history and classics
department. "Good English-language skills are essential."
Participating in an archeological dig might be both fascinating
and a great background in understanding the classics, according to Wallace.
Classics graduates come away with some important skills. "Students will
have an ability to research and to assess material, to present it in a clear
and logical fashion, to think critically about ideas and issues," says Gwyneth
Lewis, a classical studies instructor.
"All students will have had to come to terms with very different cultures
and different ways of thinking and will thus, I hope, have increased their
openness to other cultures."
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